How the Elder Candidates Were Chosen and How They Will Be Presented

The first nominees for the eldership of Bethlehem Baptist Church are Rollin Erickson, Ronn Kreps, David Livingston, Tom Ragstad, Daniel Runion, Tom Schreiner, Dennis Smith, Gene Sprinkel, Tom Steller, John Piper, Marty Wade. I say first nominees because the constitution allows for more elders to be added as needed, with the vote of the congregation. The only stipulation is that there be twice as many lay elders as ordained elders.

Under the appointment of the Council of Deacons the Subcommittee on Elders and Government Structure met March 12 to review the transition plan for moving to the new governance structure and to determine the nominees to recommend to the Council of Deacons for the new Board of Elders. Before this meeting well over 70 names had been accumulated of men who were at least minimally qualified.

At this meeting we believe God moved in a remarkable way. Instead of weighing each name on the list separately, the seven who were there decided, after prayer, to simply write down whom they believed were already “elders” in the functional sense of being esteemed by the congregation as primary leaders of the church in the area of spiritual life and governance. In other words, who at Bethlehem is not only gifted and fit according to biblical standards, but also have emerged, over time, as the primary leaders and shapers of the church?

As the names emerged there was total agreement on the twelve—which was the number we had decided to aim for on the initial Board of Elders. As these names were presented to the pastoral staff and then to the Council of Deacons, there was unanimous enthusiasm. I was asked to meet with them all and discuss their openness to serving. In that process all but one said yes—which, I believe, is another sign of God’s leading.

On Sunday, May 26 there will be a brochure available with information on each candidate. You may pick it up in the foyer outside the church office. It will include phone numbers in case you have any questions for them. On June 2 the entire Sunday Evening Family Gathering will be devoted to presenting the candidates and voting. Each candidate will make a brief presentation. After a time for questions and prayer and worship the vote will be taken in which the congregation will be asked to “affirm” or “not affirm” each candidate.

The affirmed elders will then serve along side the present Council of Deacons for the remainder of this year and devote their energies to designing the governance structure that will go into place January 1992. The Council of Deacons will continue its ministry functions through the end of the year.

Pray that God would manifest his gracious appointments in clear and encouraging ways.

Thankful for you all,

Pastor John

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